Back to the Original Plan

 Urban smog (Photo: Pixabay)

Urban smog (Photo: Pixabay)

You see, it doesn’t need to be this way.
No one said that we had to live in a world with nuclear weapons once again
Growling in the background.
No one said that we had to pollute and plunder and poison our beautiful planet
Until, as we watch it slowly die, we are filled with a deep and hideous dread.
Which we ignore, which we ignore.
No one ever said that war after war after war had to be a part of our daily life.
No one ever said that men had to be such brutes,
Whether in the office or on the battlefield.
No one, no one ever said that we have to live with all of this shit, year after year,
Century after century, millennium after millennium, with no change in sight.

For some reason, we were given a sun that comes up every morning.
For some reason, we were given the rain that waters a meadow filled with flowers.
For some reason, we were given the ability to see those flowers, smell those flowers,
Paint those exquisite flowers,
And even give a cluster of flowers from your hand to her hand,
As the best way you know of saying, “I love you.”

For some reason, we were given a voice that can call “Hello!” across the distance,
A voice that can engage with another voice in the weaving of a wonderful discussion,
A voice that can encourage, that can comfort, that can make someone smile,
A voice that can sing with words rising from deep in our hearts.

For some reason—for some absolutely unnecessary reason—we were given the ability
To curl our lips upward with a smile.
Just that, the universal smile,
From San Francisco to Cuba to Arkhangelsk, from Beijing to Rio to Bamako, Mali,
This simple, all-embracing gift . . . a smile.

What happened?  Why did we sell ourselves so cheap?
Why did we toss it all away?
If you have studied the laws of physics, you know about gravity.
You know about the speed of light.  You know about hot and cold.
About sound . . . and silence.
From the sun warming our faces while we stand on the sturdy Earth,
To the stars that taunt us with their mysteries,
All of it is woven together by the laws of physics.

And yet, not one single law in nature’s lexicon states that we must fight wars.
Not one single law states that a man can raise his fist against a woman.
Not one single law compels us to pollute and plunder and poison the one planet
In all the universe which bestows upon us the gift of life.
We are a plague upon ourselves.  We are a curse upon ourselves.
Don’t you see?  It doesn’t have to be this way.

* * * * * * *

John Slade

Ås, Norway  


John Slade is a Norwegian-American author born in Buffalo, New York. He has a doctorate in literature from Stanford University, and is a certified speaker for Climate Reality. You can find his books at

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